The thing is, Thomas is just 10 years old.
“I’m feeling good,” Thomas said with a smile. “There’s a lot of good showmen out there, and, well, it was hard (to win).”
Thomas had little time to soak in his victory though, and he and his cow, named Silk, were busy preparing for another competition, this time, however, it would be less about how well Thomas is able to show off his cow, and more about the cow herself.
“You’ve got to work hard (to win these competitions) and practice at the house,” he said. “You have to have a calm and cool heifer.
“I’m proud that I worked hard today,” Thomas continued. “All the kids did a great job in my class, but I’m proud of myself because I won.”
Thomas wasn’t the only winner Monday morning, as he was joined by several young farmers in victory, including 9-year-old Clara Elsea, who took home the top spot in the Shorthorn breed competition, though she has a more unique way of celebrating.
“I need some hot cocoa,” she said after her win.
“It’s pretty cool (to win),” she added. “You get to do stuff normal kids don’t get to do everyday and it’s super fun.”
And with her 10th birthday coming up next month, bringing home that coveted blue ribbon was a little sweeter for her — especially with a fairly crowded field this year.
According to competition director Terri Robbins, there were 53 children showing off 127 head of cattle Monday morning, with showmanship and breed-specific competitions taking place throughout the day.
“It’s just a different atmosphere (compared to what they’re used to),” Robbins said. “They’re not only learning skills about cattle, but they’re learning skills about life in general.
“It’s just a lot of fun in the barn.”
The Appalachian Fair is also one of the few shows in the area that awards some winners points toward national competitions, and draws people from around the region.
“This show brings in a lot of kids from a lot of different states,” Robbins added. “This is a pretty good show.”
The larger adult competitions, which children can enter, get started Tuesday at 1 p.m., and continue throughout the fair. The next junior show will be Friday at 5 p.m., followed by a junior sheep show on Saturday at 8 a.m.
“To these kids it’s a really big deal,” Robbins said. “It’s great to get your children involved.”